Memento MoriEqual Vision Records / Rory Records
By Cole Faulkner
Matt Pryor, best known for his work in The Get Up Kids, has been quietly amassing a sizeable library of solo work. Given the focus of his seminal emo band, it’s not surprising that Pryor’s independent output retains strong emotional overtones. Defined largely as an acoustic affair, Pryor’s unmistakably fragile vocals communicate a deeply personal and intimate connection with his work. His latest effort, Memento Mori, showcases Pyror’s pensive, wispy demeanor, making for an album every bit as light at it is somber. Memento Mori isn’t something to sing along to on a sunny day, but rather a collection of tracks well worth contemplating while gazing through a rain-drizzled window.
Laced with soft strung guitar chords and lightly landing piano notes, opener “Mary” sets Memento Mori up as a very unassuming introduction. “Mary, I’m sorry, I didn’t have the will to fight, the fire in the house tonight,” apologizes Pryor during his opening lines. A sense of sadness pervades each word – washing a wave of defeat over listeners. It’s the type of song that takes a few listens before its full weight bares itself, but certainly grows into something quite intimate once familiar. Others like “A Small Explosion” expand on this sense of growth with wispy harmonies elevating choruses without giving into the temptation of writing a mainstream Chris Carrabba radio single. Further songs like “Sidney,” “I Won’t Be Afraid,” and “When We Go Wrong” showcase Pryor’s knack for maintaining this sense of balance throughout Memento Mori.
The only potential issue that some may find with the album is that the’s rather slow, methodical pacing, gets a little sluggish. Tracks like “Where Is Juan Carlos” perhaps overdo the slow and somber approach, risking a mid-album lull in energy. Thankfully the disc never coasts to a complete stop, but there are a few moments that may have benefited from slight nudge on the accelerator.
Matt Pryor offers another solid installment in his emotional series of solo albums. The album isn’t his most distinct work (that honour remains with May Day), but maintains many of the songwriting hallmarks of which Pryor’s fan base admires him for. All in all, Memento Mori is a safe and enjoyable addition to Pryor’s discography.